This is the third Friday of May and has been designated as Endangered Species Day.
1. Vaquita– Only 30 individuals of this rarest of marine mammal still survive. They live off the northern Gulf of California and are sometimes drowned or caught in nets by illegal fishing operations. The Mexican government is implementing a captive breeding program and have spent $100 million on their conservation.
2. Amur Leopard– Lives in northeast China and southeast Russia. Their fur grows to 3 inches. There are only about 60 of these cats left. In the leopards still existing researches have found very low genetic diversity which means this indicates inbreeding. This may have been going on for several generations and can happen even without human influence.
3. Sumatran Elephant– Nearly 70 percent of this elephant’s natural habitat has been destroyed in only one generation. They eat a wide variety of plants and deposit seed around their range which makes them play a vital role in the area’s ecosystem. Their population has dropped 80 percent in the past 25 years. The World Wildlife Fund is working with local groups to cut down on poaching and to create protected areas.
4. Hawksbill Turtle– These live in the world’s tropical oceans spending most of their time around coral reefs. They are often killed for their colorful shells and meat. Their eggs are also eaten around the world. They live for up to 50 years and weight up to 150 pounds.
5. Javan Rhino– Only 63 of these most endangered rhinoceros survive in a national park in Indonesia. Living in extremely dense jungle very little is known about their way of life. The adults only come together occasionally to mate.
6. Malayan Tiger– This beautiful tiger lives in the southern tip of Thailand and on the Malay Peninsula. Human kill the tigers because they prey on livestock and this could be one reason their population is in decline. They are also poached for a medicine made from their bones and for their meat.
7. Mountain Gorilla– Even though Dian Fossy’s research brought them international attention their are only two populations of them left. They remain in four national parks in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They live in mountain regions of 8-13,000 feet and thier long fur allows them to live in freezing temperatures. They can stand up to four feet tall and the adults weigh up to 440 pounds.
8. Saola (or Asian unicorn)– These animals are found only in the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam. Their were dubbed the unicorn nickname due to the two sharp horns that can reach 20 inches. They are cousins to antelope, goats and cattle. They were first discovered in May of 1992.
9. Cross River Gorilla– One of the world’s rarest great ape it lives in the mountains and forested hills of the Cross River on the Cameroon and Nigeria border. There is said to be only 200 to 300 of these alive. They have been displaced in large areas that was their traditional range. They seem to be fighting back by throwing branches, soil and grass at any humans that approach them.
10. Bornean Orangutan– This largest tree dwelling animal is native to the island of Borneo that is in the South Pacific. These are the slowest to breed of all mammals.